The Campaign for Clean Diesels – Are Diesels “Greener” than Hybrids?

Have you seen the new Audi campaign, “Diesel – It’s no longer a dirty word”, promoting clean diesel technology? Below is a YouTube video from Audi of America.
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So what are the advantages of “Clean Diesel’s” over traditional gasoline engines? And even hybrids?
Diesels got a bad reputation in the late 70s and 80s due to their excessive black smoke, bad smell, and hard to start engines. But today’s diesels are clean, energy efficient, easy starting, and have plenty of power. So why diesels and why now? Not until recently did we find Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (an Environmental Protection Agency requirement in 2006) at station pumps. Today US law requires a maximum of 15 ppm (parts per million) of sulfur content, compared to the 500 ppm allowed before 2006. The lower sulfur content coupled with advanced emission control systems greatly reduces particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen (basically makes them much cleaner). Diesel’s higher energy content over gasoline (129,500 BTUs vs. 115,000 BTUs per gallon) and higher compression (~16:1 vs. 9:1) allow more energy to be converted from the chemical energy of the fuel to the mechanical energy of motion to move you down the road. Due to the fact that diesels cycle less (fewer revolutions per minute to create the power needed) and a heavier built engine, diesel engines (when maintained) can easily last 200,000+ miles. I remember changing oil on an older 1980s Volkswagen diesel that had over 400,000 miles on it – and the engine was never rebuilt.

To illustrate the hybrid vs. diesel argument, in 2008 Popular Mechanics compared two vehicles – a Toyota Prius and a Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion 1 (a European available car). The result…the Prius achieved 54 mpg, the VW 74 mpg. And the VW billowed out fewer CO2 emissions.

What do you think? Are you ready to try a diesel for your next vehicle?

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Auto Upkeep 4th Edition

Michael Gray

Mike has roots in the automotive service industry. He began diagnosing and fixing cars at a young age in his family’s service station. He has worked in automotive parts supply stores, towing companies, and service facilities. After graduating from St. Cloud State University (MN) with a Bachelor’s degree, he implemented and taught a basic car care program at the high school level. During work on his Master’s degree at Illinois State University (IL), he was a curriculum specialist on a National Science Foundation project where he co-authored ten integrated mathematics, science, and technology books designed for team teaching. Mike has also supervised teachers in Career and Technology Education as a school system administrator.

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